Ivanir set to make Maccabi Tel Aviv debut

Yellow-and-blue head for Sakhnin; Greens home to Beersheba; wobbly Betar hosts Mac PT.

Ivanir 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ivanir 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Moti Ivanir knows anything short of immediate success won’t be good enough as he prepares to make his debut as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The yellow-and-blue visit Bnei Sakhnin in Premier League action on Saturday, looking to win consecutive matches for just the third time this season.
Ivanir officially took charge of Maccabi on Tuesday, a week after the sacking of Avi Nimni, and understands he will not be given even one day of grace as he attempts to turn the dysfunctional squad of stars he inherited into a team that is at least equal to the sum of its parts.
“I have only coached the team for two days so it wouldn’t be serious to speak about the changes we will see in the team against Sakhnin,” Ivanir said.
“It takes more time than that for a team to understand what the coach wants from it. We will do everything we can so that the team will play better, but we can’t guarantee that it will happen overnight.
Our job is to make sure the side plays well and the players’ job is to play their heart out.”
Maccabi claimed a 1-0 victory over Betar Jerusalem on Monday under interim coach Itzik Ovadia – who has since left – and will surely be confident ahead of the match against Sakhnin.
Maccabi beat the northerners 4-0 when the teams met earlier this season, the only time Tel Aviv has scored more than two goals in a league match in the current campaign.
“I told the players that you can have good or bad days but regardless you have to leave everything out on the pitch,” Ivanir said. “There is no excuse for not giving your all and I told the players I expect this from them.”
Tel Aviv has plenty of ground to make up on league-leader Maccabi Haifa, which holds an eight-point cushion on the yellow-and-blue and will be expected to win once more when it hosts Hapoel Beersheba at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Saturday.
Haifa has won six straight matches, scoring three goals in five of those wins, and after a rocky start to the season seems to be finally hitting top form.
Elisha Levy’s team could only manage a 1-1 draw at Beersheba earlier this season, but will be a firm favorite on Saturday against Nir Klinger’s team, which has won just one of its past five encounters.
Hapoel Tel Aviv, which trails Haifa by two points, hosts Hapoel Acre on Monday.
Uri Malmilian seemed to have managed to steady the ship at Betar Jerusalem, but after winning three straight matches the team from the capital has plunged into yet another crisis.
Betar has won just once in its past four contests and even in that one win over Ironi Kiryat Shmona it was extremely lucky to get away with the three points.
Jerusalem will be desperate to avoid the relegation-playoffs at the end of the season, but it already finds itself four points back of 10th placed Maccabi Netanya and safety, and faces another difficult match against Maccabi Petah Tikva at Teddy Stadium on Saturday.
Petah Tikva beat Betar 2-1 when the teams first met this season, and despite losing two straight matches, Freddy David’s side has got more than enough quality to leave Teddy with all three points.
After snapping its five-game winless streak last week, Kiryat Shmona goes in search of its second straight victory when it visits Hapoel Petah Tikva on Saturday, while Hapoel Ramat Gan hosts Hapoel Ashkelon and Hapoel Haifa faces Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium.
Ashdod SC welcomes Netanya on Sunday.